Why I Still Buy CD's
When I drove across the mountains to my cabin on the Sunshine Coast I loaded my car with the crème de la crème of my things.
There was room for a cherry red coffee table, half painted with a door that only shuts if you give it a gentle thud with your hip that I bought from the Salvation Army a few years ago for $11 bucks. I love that thing, imperfect at its best.
A canvas painting full of abstract splatters of burnt oranges, yellow and blue hues that I bought on my last day in Indonesia. I had a hundred dollars left in my bank account. That hundred bucks was meant to get me to the airport, feed me on the legs home, be emergency spending money (coffee) etc.
I was wandering down a busy street crammed with scooters, sticky heat, street meat, clothing with “real” designer names, massages up alleyways, trinkets and cheap crap with Bali painted on it. I found myself fixated on a painting, with no means to take it home with me.
The man who owned the shop wandered up to me, knowing a sucker when he sees one. I was in. He knew it, I knew it. He just didn’t know that I had no money—yet.
I opened my mouth and adoration and endearment fell from my lips.
I asked how much it was and he asked how much I had.
I pulled out fifty bucks—knowing the painting was worth more, and not wanting to ever steal art from an artist I explained (in broken Balinese and sign language) that it was all I had. I was happy to just enjoy it, there, too.
He looked at me and said, “Fifty bucks, two freshly squeezed orange juices from that shop—there, no sugar, and when you come back to Bali, two towels from Canada. Canada has the best towels. “
I place my painting on top of my coffee table and smile, remembering I have an IOU in Bali to repay one day.
The other things that made the cut were my records, no record player—but I figured I would find one eventually. I’m good at speaking things into existence in my life.
And piles of CD’s—because before I was hip enough to like records, CD’s were my musical vice of choice.
There is no music on my iPhone. The only music on my laptop is not mine, recycled and left behind on a second hand laptop. I don’t own a kindle, I don’t buy ebooks.
A friend of mine went to plug my phone in to play music in Mexico and came back a little dumbfounded saying, “There is no music on it.”
He is a musician and I sensed some underlying sensitivity that I wasn’t supporting artists by buying their music.
However—what he didn’t see, yet, were the stacks of CD’s in my car and cabin. Hard back, soft pack, stained with coffee, ketchup from drive through cases by the dozen. Battered CD’s around from when Buckcherry and Britney Spears where hip.
The ones you have to sweet talk--scratched and loved, but still sometimes work when you breathe humidity on them, and then rub them against your leg, or boob while driving on the way to work.
There are two Michael Franti, Sound of Sunshine CD’s from when the first was lost, and the second was a necessity to pump his music on repeat into my heart--now they both hang out like hombres.
Some have Jack Kerouac quotes scribbled in black marker on the back.
Some have love notes and sweet words from transient musicians wanting to create a night with a slice of romance. Some just have a short, sweet and to the point autograph—impersonal and on the way from A to B.
One of them was signed while waiting for a taxi at 3 am. Some found the piano keys, some found more wine, some found hands and lips to intertwine.
A pen found my record and told a story of it all.
When I buy an album on iTunes there isn’t a story. Just an album cover, a face, a few dollar signs beside each song.
I sometimes feel like one of the last souls who is hungry to hold tangible stories in my eyes, and my ears. I want to hold art in my hands—always.
I wish the rental stores wouldn’t of gone out of business. I liked renting a movie, putting a quarter in the candy machines and walking home munching on m&m’s.
Books, paintings, records—I will always want these things.
Paper and pen is always my first choice when writing soul vomit. When the words find me in a hurry, I seek ways to physically bring them into this earth—first.
It’s okay that they hang out here, on this screen, as it is how they are shared and devoured by the rest of the world. I am grateful for the evolution our world has had.
But I prefer to make love to words with my fingertips, with paper and ink. Pages that are hot on the other side with stories, poems from yesterday.
Once they hit this screen I cannot trace my fingers over them and feel the story. There are no coffee stains, no ink spills—it is all floating around in space.
I feel this way about music, too.
I like the act of turning on a CD player, of taking a CD from its case and seeing thank you’s and a face of the artist in my hands. I like the sound of the CD player as it thinks, gears up and starts spinning—getting ready to let loose. Knowing that if I dance too hard on the wickedly old floors of my cabin the CD skips and makes me wait.
I also like that my CD player does just one thing—it’s simple. I like things simple. There are so many mediums to tell and read stories today—it all gets awfully complicated.
We have many options in how we choose to support the artists we love. I like holding art in my hands, it makes me feel closer to it—more connected.
As long as they keep making them, I’ll keep buying them.